Goal Setting Series: Reward in Goal Setting

Reward in Goal Setting

Celebration is a really important thing  to do, upon successful completion of any goal.  Setting a reward gives you something pleasurable to look forward to, in addition to the fulfillment you experience upon successful completion of your goals. The great thing is that you are not required to spend tons of money to enjoy that celebration!  It can be allowing yourself, as one of my clients decided to do, just to read a book of her choosing for pleasure – without feeling guilty and without being disturbed.  It could mean a bubble bath, or a trip to your favorite park.  Whatever brings you joy is a great way to celebrate.

It’s important to stop at the completion of a goal to celebrate all that has been accomplished, and all that God has shown you during the journey to that point.  In fact, you can see it as an act of worship by showing gratitude for His continued presence with you along the way, and for Him giving you the direction, the energy, and all of the other necessary tools to compete the journey. It’s a time of reflection, possible recalibration, and gratitude.  It’s also a time to examine lessons learned on both the positive experiences and in the areas involving challenge.

Celebrating a victory here is not just about brining joy to you, alone, though.  Your victory celebrations are for others, as well.  When you celebrate your victories publicly, you give hope to others who are trying to reach their goals as well.  You become living proof that it is possible to accomplish goals.  Your celebration might be the very thing that God uses to encourage others to begin their journey on the path He’s placed before them.  What a privilege to be used by God in that way.

Goal Setting Series: Relevance and Reward

Relevance in Goal Setting 

After you clearly articulate why you want to do something, and create a vision of how reaching that goal will change your life, it’s then time to come clean and admit the relevance of that particular goal.  Relevance, in this case, refers to how much you care about this goal enough to make it a priority.  Are you willing to let go of or cut something else from your schedule to work on this goal?  On a scale of 1-10, how important is it to you to reach this goal?  If your answer is a ‘6’, then, yes,  it’s true that you’re more than 50% committed. However, in that case, you probably need to take a closer look at the “why” you want to set and reach this particular goal.  You  may need to recalibrate.

A lower relevance score usually indicates that you’re trying to work on something that’s important to someone else, but you have yet to find or assign your own value to that particular goal. Until you do, your efforts will most likely fall short of achievement or sustainability.  A lower score on your relevance scale can also mean that there’s an obstacle you haven’t  fully examined or addressed, therefore, you’re not confident that you can achieve the goal.  In that case, it’s really important that you drill down and get everything out on the table.  It may be that through this process you change direction and disregard this goal altogether, or you might keep the goal and establish a better plan for addressing potential obstacles. Unturned stones here will most likely cause you to stumble in your journey towards reaching your goal. Time to be brutally honest and get to the bottom of how committed you are to this goal!

Next Week: Reward in Goal Setting

Goal Setting Series: The “How Will I Know” of Goal Setting

The “How Will I Know” of Goal Setting

Last week, I reviewed the “what if” of goal setting as it relates to possible obstacles that can arise and the solutions you create to deal with them on your way to achieving your goals.  This week, I’m going to focus on the “how will I know” piece of goal setting.

So far, you’ve drilled down to some concrete specifics on your goal. Now, however, we need to talk about how you will know if you’ve actually been successful in your attempts towards a goal.  This may seem obvious, but again, you really need to be careful here.

The “how will I know” aspect of goal setting speaks to the specific measurements that go with a particular goal.  If I set a goal that says, “I want to lose weight,” I have not given myself a specific or precise measurement that will let me know if I’ve achieved the goal.  Does my goal to lose weight mean that I will be successful if I lose ¼ of a pound?  Does it mean that I have been successful by losing 3 pounds?

When you set a goal for yourself, place a specific measurement with it that clearly indicates successful and acceptable accomplishment.  In the example of losing weight, you would say, “I want to lose 12 pounds over the next 12 months at the rate of one pound per month.” Each month, if you have not lost the expected pound, then you have not met your objective for that month.  If you reach the loss of a pound, you have successfully met your objective for that month.  If you lose two pounds, you are ahead of schedule towards your ultimate goal of 12 pounds.

When you do not list a measurable way to track your success, you set yourself up for the very ambiguity that keeps most people from reaching their goals.  Measurement is a guide or tool that we use to gauge where we are from the finish line.  Do we need to make an adjustment to speed things up or slow things down?  Are we ahead of schedule, behind schedule, or completely off track and going the wrong direction?

In many business environments, rewards are awarded to employees who meet their expected goals.  If measurement is established when the goal is originally set, then there is no room for inference on the part of the employee or the organization.  Either the employee met the goal, or he did not.  If he hit the measurement specified, then he reached the goal. If he didn’t hit the measurement, then he did not reach the goal.  In that case, it’s not about the emotion of the pursuit. It’s about the end result. Either he achieved the desired result, or he did not.

Simply put – if you don’t know where you’re going – how will you know if you got there?

Next Week: Relevance and Reward

Goal Setting Series: The “What-If” of Goal Setting

The “What –If?”  of Goal Setting

Last week, I spent time talking about the “which” of goal setting as it related to identifying which obstacles might keep you from attaining the goal you have set.  This is all part of looking at the entire process of working towards our goals.  Once you’ve identified what obstacles you might face, then you want to create possible solutions to fall back on, should those obstacles arise.

In project management, this would be similar to risk planning. How much time you spend here depends on the probability that the obstacle will arise, as well as the impact it will have if it does arise.  If there’s a high probability that you’ll run into the obstacle you’ve identified, then you will want to give greater consideration to planning a solution for it.  Let’s say that you want to take a web design class.  You’ve never studied anything like this subject before, and you’re concerned that there will be material that you just don’t understand.  If that’s the case, then you might begin to consider your options.  You want to spend time now, not just thinking about the solution, but putting the pieces of it together. That way, when you’re in the middle of the journey, you don’t have to stop and try to figure it things out in the heat of the battle or worse, under the stress of last minute damage control.

In this case, before you sign up for the class, you could do a number of different things.  First, you could try to convince your friend who designs websites for a living to commit to helping you with coursework when and if you get stuck. Second, you could ask the school for a list of appropriate tutors who work with students studying that curriculum. Then, you could call a couple of them ahead of time to find out availability, fees, and any other pertinent information.  Third, you could ask your instructor to recommend a few helpful books or reference materials that you could read prior to the beginning of your class to help you prepare.  Fourth, you could get with someone else who’s already taken the class and ask that person his opinion on the level of difficulty of the material.  That person could possibly work with you on the material that you might struggle with, or he might know someone else that could help you out if you get stuck.  In this situation, another solution would to take some type of preliminary or prerequisite course before attending the actual web design course you listed as your goal.

When you start to examine possible solutions to an obstacle you think you’ll face, you’re on the way to setting yourself up for success, not failure.  You will be more confident because you already have solutions in play. You will feel more “in control” of your situation because you’ve thought through it on a deeper level.  When you feel like you’re in control, you naturally feel more confident.  Think about this proactive process… it’s just like making sure you have the car gassed up and the oil changed before you begin a long road trip.  The point is to buy your AAA membership before you even put the key in the ignition!

Next Week: The “How Will I Know” of Goal Setting

Goal Setting Series: The Which of Goal Setting

 The “Which” of Goal Setting

Last week I talked about planning to acquire resources you need to complete your goal.  Equally important is discussing which obstacles that you may run into along the way to successful achievement of said goal.

When you try anything new, the biggest obstacle to your own achievement is ….well…uhm…er…YOU.  Let’s start there.  You are the person trying to integrate a new behavior change into your routine.  Your own brain, however, is wired against your attempts to change anything.  When we do something repeatedly, it becomes a habit (like eating whatever you want whenever you want and not caring about the choice involved). Over time, your brain develops a “memory” of that behavior habit and when you try to change it or alter it in any way, your brain fights that.  You may be successful a time or two, but then the old habit starts winning over the new one and you’re right back where you started.

To break an old habit, you need to repeat the new pattern many times over.  Eventually, the old “memory” that’s associated with that old behavior habit will be overwritten by the new memory that you’ve now associated with the new behavior habit.  It’s a lot more scientific than I’m getting here, but for purposes of this blog – let’s try to keep it simple.  I think it’s important that  I address the fact that this is going on in any attempt to change an existing behavior to something new.  When you address that it’s just “not in your makeup,” you’re not giving yourself an excuse to fail, but rather you’re giving yourself greater power to succeed in spite of that challenge.  As a side note here, exercise actually helps you in this entire process – whatever the new behavior habit is that you’re trying to implement, exercising helps your brain in building the new “memory” that’s associated with it through something called neurogenesis.

There are other obstacles that you may run into along the way to reaching this new goal. It’s important that you look at your past performance to determine if there is anything there to give you a clue to what you may face again that could derail you. What has happened in the past that’s kept you from being successful in reaching goals?  How did you handle it?  Were you effective in dealing with that particular obstacle(s)?  What didn’t work in your effort to overcome it?  How might you approach this obstacle(s) differently this time with a more successful outcome?

It’s always helpful to run the idea of potential obstacles past other people who know you and support your efforts to reach your goals. You might be surprised to hear what others see in and around you that you may have missed.  Once you’ve identified the things that can (and have) pull you off course, work out strategies to deal with them should they happen.  Everyone is better with a plan.  It’s typically the unexpected thing that arises – the thing we didn’t think about  and have no plan on how to deal with – that keeps us from staying on the forward track to achieve our goals.  To be forewarned is to be forearmed.  Essentially, this is the process of “risk planning/management,” for the goal seeker.

Next Week:  The “What-If” of Goal Setting

Goal Setting Series: Examining the What of Goal Setting

The What of Goal Setting

Last week, I suggested working backwards from the desired goal as a planning tool. I mentioned that when you work backwards from the finish line in your planning, you are likely to see new information about steps you need to take or differences in the amount of time that you originally thought you needed to complete your goal. In keeping with that thought, while we’re planning the steps for HOW to achieve this goal, we have to consider WHAT we need in order to successfully complete it.  The WHAT doesn’t refer only to things.  It can also relate to people or skill sets and what’s necessary to secure those resources.

For example, let’s say that you have a goal to achieve a formal certification in project management.  You may determine that you need additional information on risk management in order to pass the certification exam.  You might determine that only a class in risk management will provide sufficient knowledge.  In that case, the resource you need is a greater knowledge of risk management.  Now you need to decide how best to receive that additional knowledge.  Will it be a night class over 6 weeks?  Will you do an online course at your own pace?  Do you prefer a traditional classroom with real time interaction between students and professor?  How much will you be able to spend on acquiring this knowledge? Will you need to acquire financial aid if you take a college class?  If you take a traditional class that’s conducted at night, will you need childcare on those evenings?  Who will provide that? How much will that childcare cost?  Are there other options for gaining this desired knowledge?

At first glance, this can seem overwhelming. It may seem that if you pull one string (question) it will unravel the whole ball of yarn.  In essence, you do want it to unravel.  You need to examine this process piece by piece in order to plan accordingly. Too often, people fall victim to their own lack of thorough planning when it comes to their goals.  If you don’t think through WHAT you need before you begin, you most likely will reach a point during your journey where you have to stop and do it at a later time.  For example, it may be that you need another person who’s a resource to help you out.  If you neglect to secure him during the planning, now you may have to wait until he can work you into his schedule to help you with this piece of your journey.  If that happens, you can end up postponing action towards your goal.

If you do have to stop your journey due to poor initial planning, it’s even tougher for you to get going again once the resource has finally been secured.  People tend to lose momentum and become frustrated when they have to do planning like that in the heat of battle.  You need your strategy and your ammunition before you enter the battle field. You need to bring all the artillery you need in order to win with you when you show up for the battle.  The best way to do that is to think through all the things you need for survival before you even begin the journey.

Next Week:  The Which of Goal Setting